Tag Archives: fiction

Quick Take: Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin


Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Official Trailer from Arwen Curry.

Debbie says:

The 53-minute film Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, directed by Arwen Curry, has been available for occasional screenings in various cities for several months. The film aired last night on PBS’s American Masters series, and is available for free streaming here.

I had the opportunity to see a rough cut of the film in 2016, and a screening of the final version this past spring. I will be streaming the movie and watching it again this month, because I don’t feel like I really saw it the first time: so much of Le Guin’s history is bound up with my own life, and so many people (other than Le Guin herself) who were part of my life at one time or another are in the movie — and many of them are dead. So I watched the film, but much of my mind was wandering down various memory lanes, and I can’t really say much about it that’s coherent.

Except …

Ursula Le Guin was an absolutely fascinating human being, as well as being a brilliant writer of both fiction and nonfiction. I think the standard narrative is that Arwen Curry was lucky to get the opportunity to direct this movie and, while that is true, I think Le Guin was also lucky (or at least wise) to agree to give Curry the opportunity. The film’s fondness for Le Guin shows through in almost every frame. We would expect respect, admiration, and even delight — and we get all of those. But not every documentarian would have the skill and the wherewithal to show affection for her subject — and Curry does this while avoiding hero-worship, and maintaining a good film-maker’s distance.

At least based on what I took in the first two times, Le Guin comes through in this movie as complex, nuanced, occasionally sharp-tongued, and extraordinarily clear-sighted. Curry’s decision to portray some of the key books of Le Guin’s oeuvre with animations is daring, and I thought it worked.

When I watch it again, I’ll be watching for directorial choices and narrative decisions: I hope I’ll be able to separate myself from my own past enough to really do the film justice.

If you’re interested in — Le Guin, writing, science fiction, fantasy, academic families, the American west, natural landscapes, or, well, so many other things — check this out while you can.

Gravitas, by Lynne Murray

Debbie says:

Our co-conspirator (well, regular guest blogger) Lynne Murray has been pretty quiet around these parts recently, and one reason is that she’s been working on a new short science-fiction novel, Gravitas, which is now available on Amazon and in other e-book formats, for $2.99 per copy.


I had the privilege of reading Gravitas in manuscript, and I want to recommend it to all of you. It is that rare bird, a novel which embraces fat power while not being about fat power. Instead, it’s about the troubles and travails of Val-Sybilla, who is burdened with a huge amount of the perfume Gravitas, a scent which has the power to cloud people’s minds (well, to turn people on and heighten their other emotional reactions). Val-Sybilla is carrying more Gravitas than most women ever carry, because she expected to get rid of it fairly promptly. But she is forced into an unexpected detour … onto Earth. Val-Sybilla’s people admire large bodies, so Earth is a bit of a surprise:

Before we could enter the building a vehicle cruised past us and someone stuck his head out the open window and yelled, “Get dressed, pig! No one wants to see that!” He tossed a large cup at me. Crushed ice and dark liquid hit me, but I managed to raise a hand to bat the cup back to hit the side of the car.

Every cell in my body seemed to contract in a new reflex. An arc of lightning followed the trail of tossed liquid back to the car, which sank a few inches lower on its suddenly flattened tires. A smell of burnt rubber rose in the air.

As the car settled down in the roadway and began to creep away, the driver yelled. “What did she do to my car?”

His companion said, “Don’t be stupid, how the hell could she do that? You hit a nail or something.”

Josu pulled me into the glass-doored building and the muffled cursing faded. He put an arm around me and turned us away from the window into the store itself. “I’m so sorry you had to endure that insult and the one on the highway. I hate to tell you how often this kind of attack is endured by women of abundant flesh on this planet.”

I stood for a moment half stunned, cold, sticky liquid trickling down my leg. “I thought the Great Mother was worshipped on Earth.” I whispered.

So, fat power, sex (influential women on Val-Sybilla’s planet are expected to have several husbands), adventure, suspense, and goddess worship. What more could you possibly want?